Ultra-Orthodox Jews are threatening widespread protests to prevent what they insist is a grave insult to their faith: a parking lot. The activists insist that no parking lot should be open on the Sabbath despite the fact that many Jews and non-Jews do not share their religious beliefs on driving. Protests last week turned violent.
Mayor Nir Barkat is trying to negotiate a resolution, but police have encouraged the opening of the parking lot on private land to relieve congestion in the Old City. The police have suggested yielding to the Orthodox demands by keeping the lot closed for two weeks while negotiating. The very fact that Israel allows such closures to appease religious views is an affront to principles of free exercise, freedom of association, and free speech. Israel’s continued mixture of temple and state undermines its democratic traditions and destabilizes its political system.
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